We founded the non-profit association becamino e.V. when we completed our community service in 2007 and in the following years, several further active members have joined our cause. With becamino, we aim to enable socially disadvantaged young people to have access to education. In the past years, we have funded existing local initiatives and carried out programs of our own. Our activities focus on the region of Alta Verapaz because we are familiar with the local circumstances and because our Guatemalan members live there. In Germany, our members work on a purely voluntary basis. The social workers on site are of course provided with an allowance to be able to perform their tasks professionally.
Since the founding of becamino in 2007, we have financially supported two existing local education initiatives in Cobán. We supported the Comunidad Esperanza initiative with funding for the construction of the school building and for a limited period of time also partly funded teachers’ salaries. For the initiative Pastoral de la niñez, we have also taken over part of the personnel costs for several years. In parallel, we set up a scholarship program for socially disadvantaged youth. The target group of the scholarship program is high school students (9th to 11th grade), so that they can earn a professional qualification degree.
In 2012 and 2013, we also carried out a pilot project in the field of rural electrification. At the time, there were many positive international reports about solar energy systems being used in areas without access to electricity. To this end, we imported solar lamps by several manufacturers to Guatemala and tested their acceptance. A model for about 40 euros with a cell phone charging feature was especially popular. However, the income of small farmers in the country are yield-dependent and in some seasons according to the crop type the earnings are too low and hardly any profits remain. For these reason, we have come to the conclusion that currently, a “social business” for rural electrification is not a viable option. From then on, we have refocused our work on the scholarships program.